How to Win a Disability Claim

Filing for permanent disability through the Social Security Administration can take months or longer, and frequently claimants will be rejected and have to appeal their case before receiving benefits. Knowing the right way to go about filing your claim can help you win sooner, reducing the time that you’re without funds. Successful navigation of disability may require hiring a disability lawyer, but they commonly accept payment from your disability back pay, awarded only when and if your claim is approved.

Workers' compensation claims cover employees in the event of an on-the-job injury. Settlements can help pay for lost wages and medical expenses. State disability claims are for short-term illnesses or injuries not covered by workers' compensation. They are designed to cover lost wages when an employee is expected to return to work in a timely manner, or prior to workers' compensation coverage. Filing a workers' compensation or state disability claim entails a similar procedure, though the appeals process is limited, as are the benefits, which vary according to state and individual company.

File all your paperwork in a timely manner. Call your local benefits caseworker every 30 days to check the status of your application. When you do, ask if he has received all your medical records. Request the names of any doctors or hospitals who have not yet sent your information.

If you have an attorney, she will serve as your liaison with the insurance company, SSA or state disability caseworker, depending on the nature of your case, and all information and documentation will be transmitted through her.

Contact your doctor. Request that he send your information to the insurance company, state disability office or Social Security Administration as appropriate, as soon as possible. Tell him that you'll follow up with him in a week, and do so.

Alternately, direct your physician's office to forward all medical records to your attorney.

Write a comprehensive list of your daily activities. Note the difficulties you have with accomplishing simple tasks such as standing, walking, cooking or bathing. Do not overstate your problems, but don't diminish them either. You're attempting to document in a practical manner why you cannot hold a regular job.

Ask your doctor to write a letter and attach a Residual Capacity Functional form. This information reveals the ways in which your mobility and abilities are limited.

Depending on your case, physicians from the SSA, workers' compensation insurance company or state disability department will examine your records to make their judgments. However, your chances will improve with detailed documentation from your own physician to clarify your degree of disability, especially in the event of an administrative hearing.

Wait to receive your decision by mail. Contact your attorney as soon as you read your letter. You should not take any course of action without consulting with her.

File all appeal or counter-offer paperwork as soon as possible if you receive a negative decision, or in response to a settlement offer, as in a state or workers' compensation disability case. Deadlines vary, but for social security disability, you have only 60 days from the date you receive a letter denying your claim to file an appeal. Your case will be dismissed if you don't file before the deadline.

Hire a respected disability attorney in your area. An experienced attorney will be able to direct, document and argue your case more effectively at the hearings. She can help you prepare paperwork and get the information you need from your medical professionals as well.

In more complicated workers' compensation cases, an experienced attorney can also advise you regarding settlement options such as cash awards, ongoing payments and permanent disability, and can often help you obtain a larger settlement with better future medical care.